In a bilateral visit to India by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman, the relations between the two countries has been elevated to a new level.
Highlights of the Visit :
- In the recent attack of terrorists on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir both countries condemned terrorism and vowed to work together in tackling terrorism. For this, a joint working group i.e. India withdrew the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan.
- For this, a comprehensive security Dialogue at the level of National Security Advisors will be held to
- Both countries called out countries that are supporting terrorist activities to desist from doing it.
- They also called the international community to adopt the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
- The two countries decided to set up a Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) to decide on security matters. The council will held summit meetings every two years. It also includes ministerial level exchanges. This an upgradation to the strategic partnership between the two countries.
- Both countries see that the potential of trade between them is $100 billion in energy, refining, agriculture, petrochemicals, etc.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) was signed between the two countries.
- In the field of tourism, a MoU was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Saudi Kingdom.
- Another MoU for broadcasting audio-visual programmes between the two countries was signed.
- Both countries decided to hold joint naval exercises. Also, in the future, they will be cooperating in manufacturing defense spare parts for naval and land systems. This is in tune with India’s Make in India programme and Vision 2030 objectives of Saudi Arabia.
- Also a MoU was signed on combating cybercrime.
Importance of Saudi’s Ties :
- Saudi Arabia is the largest producer of oil in the world and its production policies will impact global oil prices.
- The country is the most important supplier of oil to India.
- Also, the country is home to the largest expat Indians, whose remittances earn the country huge foreign exchange.
- Healthy ties with Saudi Arabia is in the social, economical and strategic interests of India. And the country plays an important role in India’s energy security needs.
- The bilateral trade between the two countries currently stands at $27 billion (2017-18). It has the potential to reach much greater heights.
- Also, Saudi Arabia can become a major source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the country. It has the world’s sixth largest Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
- Being an important player in the middle east, the security ties with the country are of great importance.
Some Thorny Issues :
- The Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan right before India’s visit must be seen as the priority which Saudi Arabia places on Pakistan.
- Also, the statement of the Crown Prince of offering help to India and Pakistan to defuse tensions over Kashmir must be seen as an intervention.
- Often, the country had taken a stand against India in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over Kashmir issue.
- Thus, India must tread carefully in dealing with Saudi Arabia.
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